Sidney Wolfe, a relentless consumer activist and frequent foe of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has died at the age of 86. Wolfe was a key figure in consumer rights movement, and worked to promote safety among various FDA regulated products such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and food products.
Wolfe’s consumer advocacy work began in 1971 when he joined Ralph Nader’s public interest research group as its first full-time doctor. In 1974, Wolfe founded the Health Research Group (HRG), which was later transformed into the National Research Center for Health and Safety. Through the HRG, Wolfe led several campaigns to address the dangers of widely-used pharmaceuticals and medical devices, such as the arthritis drug Vioxx and the metal-on-metal hip implants.
Wolfe’s consistent lobbies to the FDA resulted in serious safety concerns being addressed as it relates to numerous medical products. He also served as an expert witness at congressional hearings, galvanized public support to advocate for changes, spoke with the media, and used his medical expertise to educate lawmakers on important public health issues.
For his tireless work advocating for consumer safety, Wolfe was often met with resistance from the FDA, physicians, and the pharmaceutical industry. But, Wolfe leaned on his significant understanding of the regulatory process and fearlessness to ensure his mission was achieved.
Wolfe dedicated more than 40 years of his life as an advocate for consumers’ public health and safety. He leaves behind a legacy of protecting the public from injustices and an example of how to fearlessly take a stand for what is right.